Windies face tough World Cup chal­lenge af­ter washout

Kuwait Times - - SPORTS -

West Indies will need to smash hosts Eng­land in the up­com­ing one-day in­ter­na­tional se­ries to avoid the ig­nominy of be­ing forced to qual­ify for the World Cup af­ter a washout against Ire­land yes­ter­day.

The game at Stor­mont was scrapped with­out a ball be­ing bowled af­ter fresh rain fol­lowed an overnight soak­ing for the pitch, leav­ing the um­pires with no choice. It means the 1975 and 1979 World Cup win­ners will have to beat Eng­land 5-0 or 4-0 with either a tie or a no-re­sult in or­der to qual­ify ahead of eighth-placed Sri Lanka, who are eight points ahead in the rank­ings.

Only the top seven ODI sides, apart from hosts Eng­land, cur­rently ranked fourth, as of Septem­ber 30 will qual­ify di­rectly for the 50-over show­piece event in 2019. Teams that do not gain di­rect en­try will get an­other shot through a qual­i­fy­ing tour­na­ment.

West Indies cap­tain Jason Holder said qual­i­fy­ing au­to­mat­i­cally would be a tough task but he is look­ing for­ward to the se­ries, which starts in Manch­ester next week. “Eng­land are a qual­ity cricket side and they are play­ing at home,” said the skip­per.

“We’re at the stage where we are look­ing to turn a cor­ner and qual­ify for the World Cup, whether we have to go through the qual­i­fiers or qual­ify au­to­mat­i­cally. We’re ex­cited for the se­ries and hope­fully we can play some good cricket. “It won’t be an em­bar­rass­ment to play in the qual­i­fiers. We are where we are and if we do have to play in them, we will take it one step at a time.” The West Indies, who lost the re­cent Test se­ries against Eng­land 2-1, have been boosted by the re­turn of Chris Gayle while Mar­lon Sa­muels will join up with the squad af­ter a fam­ily be­reave­ment.

“We are still a work in progress and hope­fully more play­ers are com­ing back,” said Holder. “Mean­time, we have a young group of play­ers chal­leng­ing for places and hope­fully they can come in and make their pres­ence felt and feel more com­fort­able in the in­ter­na­tional arena.” Holder was dis­ap­pointed at miss­ing out on play­ing yes­ter­day but could not dis­agree with the um­pires’ de­ci­sion. “Very dis­ap­pointed. It was set to be a good oc­ca­sion for Ir­ish cricket and it’s great to be here, al­beit it’s very, very cold,” he said.

“It’s just un­for­tu­nate the weather in­ter­vened but it was very wet out there and the last shower set­tled it.” The aban­don­ment means Ire­land are still wait­ing to play their first match against a Test-play­ing side since be­ing granted full mem­ber sta­tus by the In­ter­na­tional Cricket Coun­cil in June.

West Indies fly to Eng­land on Thurs­day ahead of a one-off Twenty20 in­ter­na­tional at Ch­ester-le-Street on Satur­day. The ODI se­ries starts at Old Traf­ford on Septem­ber 19. — AFP

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